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What’s your passion?

Tonight I was walking into the corner store and sitting outside was a man smoking cigarettes and asking for change. Usually, I decline them, but tonight something moved me. When the man asked if I could spare any change I said, “Sure. I’ll give you all the change I have if you tell me something.”

He said, “What do you want to know?”

“What’s your passion?”

He looked at me quizzically and said, “What does that mean?”

“What fills your heart? What drives you onward?”

Without hesitation he answered, “Love, brother.”

As I was giving him my change, I asked him one final question. “What have you been doing to pursue that lately?”

He shook his head sadly and looked away. “Hell. I don’t even know anymore, man.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I have a list of passions that fill my heart. But when I ask myself what I’ve been doing to pursue them, I have to admit to myself, “Hell. I don’t even know anymore man.” And why don’t I know? Why have I given up on all these things that add meaning to my life? I suppose for the same reasons most people do. Because we let life get in the way. We tell ourselves, “I’ll start on it tomorrow.” The only problem with that is Tomorrow never comes. It always turns into Today. And it’s always so hard to find the time today; there’s too much to do.

But what is passion? What does it mean?  Ultimately, our passion is what we were put on earth to accomplish. What we individually do to make and leave the world a better place. But that has been distorted and confused. We live in a world where passion has been mistaken for emotional outbursts. Look at reality television. It’s nothing but cheap emotional manipulation saturated with advertisements. The same can be said for social media outlets. Every time I scroll through a feed I go through a range of emotions. This post makes me angry. This post makes me laugh. This post tugs at my heart-strings. This post wants me to buy a new razor. And on and on. These things aren’t passions they are sleazy emotional ploys. We shouldn’t be filling our heart with them. They give our lives no meaning. In fact, they only take from us. By the time I get to the bottom of the feed, I feel empty. I usually slam my computer shut in disgust and tell myself, “Way to go, genius, you just wasted another 20 minutes of your life.” So what’s the alternative? The answer to that is easy: force a change. If you know better, do better.

We let ourselves become convinced that happiness is this false sense of security called the American Dream and we’ve sacrificed our passions on the altar of this great god called Mammon. We’ve been conditioned all our lives to believe that if we do everything according to plan, go to school, get a job, make money, get a house, fill it with shit, then we are supposed to be happy. But that’s not the case. I see more and more people unhappy with their supposed achievements. But this doesn’t necessarily mean more and more people are realizing what they need to be doing is following their passion. Too many of us are immersing ourselves in an ever-expanding myriad of distractions in order to ignore the fact that we’re miserable and unfulfilled. We are all guilty of it. We can’t really blame ourselves too much, I mean, it IS the world we were born into. But it’s not the world that we have to live in. It’s not the world that we have to leave to our children.

Things are how they are because we’ve been fooled into accepting a fiction as reality. We CAN change. We CAN refuse to accept the lie and start living in truth. But in order to do that we have to start TODAY. Are you ready? If so:

What’s your passion?

And what have you done to pursue it lately?

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Daily Wisdom-isms: Robert E. Howard

I’m fairly sure some of you have heard of Robert E. Howard. I’m sure all of you have heard of Conan the Barbarian. Conan was Howard’s most popular character though he birthed many others. He’s also credited with single-handedly creating the genre of “sword and sorcery”. Where did this pioneering writer see most of his works printed? Strictly in pulp magazines. The junk mags of the depression era. He, sadly, never published an actual book during his life. Today’s anecdote comes from a conversation he had with Novalyne  Price Ellis, the local English teacher.

Ms. Price commented that she wanted a side job writing for the pulps like Robert did.

He looked her square in the eye and said, “It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

—taken from “One Who Walked Alone.”

And isn’t it true? There’s this line. This unspoken step in the proper social progression. See, when we’re young, we have all these grand ideas for the legends we’re going to make for ourselves. We’re told over and over that we can be ANYTHING we want to be. So we want to be things like painters, actors, astronauts, writers and pro athletes. These desires ultimately shape who we become. But here’s the kicker: Somewhere along the way these dreams get abandoned.

Artists end up architects. Actors become politicians. Writers become English Teachers. And pro athletes sell cars. This happens in almost every instance because at some point most people abandon the search for their dreams and become comfortable in a “practical lifestyle”. But why?

“It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

So what about the intrepid fools who don’t give up? Some people never lose sight of their dreams. Some people can’t. No matter how hard they try to fit in, to become comfortable and complacent.  Sure, these passionate fools cross the line from time to time. Even starving artists have to eat. But they never stay. The pull of their dream is too strong, their passion too great. For these daring individuals, life isn’t about seeing how high you can “level up” your material junk. It’s about creating. It’s about leaving behind a legacy that will live on and inspire lives long after they’ve passed.

Novalyne Price never wrote for the pulps. She was an English Teacher for most of her life and her only published work was a memoir about her experience with Howard that was written after she retired. And Robert E. Howard? He never crossed the line into proper social progression. He committed suicide at age 32 and his legacy survives to this day.

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